There are billions and then there are billions. As that nice young Mr. Zuckerburg and his pals make fortunes beyond the dreams of avarice from the Facebook IPO, Nokia, in it's time also a money making machine par excellence, continues its headlong plunge to oblivion, as Martyn Warwick reports.
Just look at the figures - and weep. Five years ago, Nokia of Finland was sat cosily atop a cash mountain of some €10 billion. Since that high-point the cash cushion has steadily got thinner and thinner. Nokia had burned through €2.1 billion in the past 15 months and is now left with about €4.9 billion in ready money - still a huge reserve but less than half of what it was five years ago.
In a poll, analysts at 30 banks and brokerages said that Nokia will chew through another €2 billion by the end of the year and by next New Year's Day 2013 will have just €2.8 billion left in the pot. If the company carries on bleeding cash at this rate it will be all but broke before the end of 2013. And even if it sells some of its dwindling assets to stay afloat it will be doing no more than postponing the evil day.
A €1.25 billion bond payment falls due in early 2014.
In a statement, Nokia said that it "does not comment on analyst's forecasts" before once more sticking its rear-end in the air and pushing its head back down the hole in the tundra where it likes to tell the worms and beetles that everything is alright really.
At this point we shall call on literature to sum things up. In David Copperfield, the ever- but overly-optimistic Wilkins Micawber famously observes, "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and - and in short you are for ever floored."
Nokia take note. It is a venerable company of 148 years. The chances of it making it to 150 get slimmer every day.
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